African, Art, Literature & Film, French, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Revisiting Paris: Old Haunts And Music Discoveries

Posted November 4, 2015 by | 2 Comments
yellow deux chevaux

I just spent two weeks in France, much of it in Paris. It was Cherie’s and my first visit together. I lived there in 1970, back when Les Halles was still there, demonstrations continued to pick up where May 1968 left off, and many demonstrations against Nixon and Kissinger’s war in Vietnam. I got thrown in jail for being too close to a demonstration …

Classical, Music History, Performances & Events, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

A Devotion To The Mighty Pipe Organ

Posted October 21, 2015 by | 1 Comment

Anybody who’s never experienced a big pipe organ concert in a cathedral has missed something special. The pipe organ is — and has always been — the biggest and most complicated musical instrument of all. Its huge array of sound, its sheer sonic power, would make a stack of Marshall amps or heavy metal band sound puny.
Then there is the setting: cathedrals, especially the …

Artist Spotlight, Classical, Jazz, Music History, Performances & Events, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Six Great Music Educators

Posted October 20, 2015 by | 1 Comment

A good music teacher can infuse inspiration and instill a lifelong love of music. I couldn’t relate at all to my super straight, rigid piano teacher when I was seven or eight, plus there was simply no great music to be had in the Schnabel household, save for the 45 rpm 7″ R&B sides my older brother brought home. So I stopped taking lessons. …

Jazz, Music History »

Miles & Ornette: Observers of first-class misery

Posted October 14, 2015 by | 0 Comments

Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman are so well-known to jazz aficionados — and even regular folk — that you can just call them by their first names and most people will know who you’re talking about.
Their musical styles were very different, almost contradictory.  Miles mastered chord sequences and scales, then threw it all away; Ornette had his own “harmolodic” theory and practice, where all …

Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

DNA of a pop song: Barry Manilow’s started with Chopin

Posted October 12, 2015 by | 1 Comment

Often big pop hits have somewhat obscure origins in classical music. This is true for a song that was a big hit for, first, Barry Manilow, who wrote the song “Could It Be Magic” in 1973. Then  three years later, Donna Summer followed suit.
Now, I was never much of a Barry Manilow fan, but I have to say he melted my heart — along …

Jazz, Music History »

The Story of “Twisted,” a Jazz Bebop Vocal Classic

Posted October 5, 2015 by | 0 Comments

Wardell Gray was 28 when he wrote “Twisted,” and the bebop classic is still hip after all these years. He graduated from Cass Tech in Detroit which, like DuSable High in Chicago, was an incubator of young jazz talent. Arriving here during the late 1940s, he was one of the cool young hepcats in Los Angeles, gigging on Central Avenue with the likes of Dexter Gordon, …

African, Jazz, Music History »

Manu Dibango Chez Moi, 1995

Posted September 29, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Manu Dibango - Soul Makossa

The popular Cameroonian-born saxophonist, Manu Dibango, has always been a personal favorite. Traveling as a young man from his home town of Douala, Cameroon, to Paris, he discovered American jazz and fell in love.
His 1972 hit song, “Soul Makossa,” was discovered by DJ David Mancuso as a French import at a West Indian record store in Brooklyn and became a favorite at his loft parties. Soon, the song received enough air …

Audiophiles, Jazz, Latin, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

New Vinyl Sales are Up, Up and Away…!

Posted September 21, 2015 by | 0 Comments

I am a vinyl junkie and have written about my habit before:
Also some seriously bad LP cover art…
I perked up when I saw this in the New York Times (there is a video after the ad, too).
Rusty old pressing plants are being bought up, refurbished after years of non-use and neglect, and still can’t keep up with demand for new vinyl pressings. Many independent labels …

Artist Spotlight, French, Jazz, Latin, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #125: Musical Ambrosia, Part 1

Posted September 18, 2015 by | 1 Comment

Ambrosia is the nectar of the gods in Greek mythology. For me it’s a little more mundane: a fruit salad with mandarin oranges, pineapple, grapes, pecans, cherries, with a dash of whipped cream. I have added a splash of Cointreau to this beautiful mélange.
I heard the word in a different and incongruous way the other day, when I read an article in the …

Artist Spotlight, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

What I Learned From Oliver Sacks (1933–2015)

Posted September 2, 2015 by | 1 Comment
Oliver Sacks - Headphones

I was deeply saddened to learn that Oliver Sacks (b. 1933–2015) had succumbed to the cancer that he announced this past February. He was 82-years young.
The sheer number of obituaries penned over the past few days remembering this gifted author and neurologist for his immense contribution to the field made me recall how differently I learned to understand the situations of people suffering with neurological …

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